The best places to live in Jacksonville
One of the most challenging elements of relocating to a new city is finding a neighbourhood where a person and their family will feel at home. Finding the perfect area or suburb in Jacksonville will be heavily dependent on the newcomer's lifestyle, their budget and their priorities. Young professionals and those with a sizeable income tend to live close to downtown Jacksonville, where they have access to the best amenities. New arrivals with families, or retirees moving to Florida for a slower pace of life, may prefer to find a home in the suburbs.
Here is a breakdown of some of Jacksonville’s prominent neighbourhoods.
City living in Jacksonville
Tree-lined San Marco, just south of the city centre, is a historic district of Jacksonville that dates back to the 1920s. Residents benefit from the short commute downtown as well as vibrant entertainment offerings. Eclectic boutiques and a distinctive arts scene are also major draws for the area. Accommodation here mainly comes in the form of apartments and condos, none of which come particularly cheap. A lot of single professionals and creative types call San Marco home.
Riverside and Avondale
Historic Riverside and Avondale present a unique mix of culture, charm and modern design. Home to the fabulous dining options of the Five Points district, vibey bars and quirky thrift shops on every corner, the area has plenty for residents to see and do. The neighbourhood's population is predominantly younger people with the disposable income to take full advantage of the neighbourhood’s amenities and attractions. While luxury waterfront homes and upscale apartment buildings are the norm here, there is still a strong sense of community and urban charm about the place.
Arlington, located on the east side of Jacksonville, is adjacent to the beautiful wetlands and forests of the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve. Despite being quite close to downtown Jacksonville, Arlington retains a typically suburban sense. That said, arrivals will quickly learn that there is much to discover in this historic district, including a solid range of dining options, busy bars and evening entertainment offerings. Arlington residents tend to be young couples, families and people who generally enjoy spending time outdoors.
Suburban life in Jacksonville
Westside and Orange Park
Just a 25-minute drive from downtown Jacksonville are the family-friendly suburbs of Westside and Orange Park. The area's good public and private schools, plus the fact that there are parks dotted throughout, usually attract families to the area. It's also quite popular among retirees, who are drawn to the area for its leisurely and laid-back pace of daily life. Waterfront mansions, Tudor style-family homes and humble wooden-framed buildings are just some of the housing options available. Bear in mind though, that property in the area doesn’t come cheap due to the neighbourhood's prime riverside location and stunning city views.
Springfield is one of the Jacksonville's most attractive suburbs. Much of its housing was built during the late 19th and early 20th century. Stunning architecture, well-maintained streets and walkability are major drawcards for the area. Home to a number of good public schools, Springfield is another popular choice for families.
Nocatee is a planned community situated on the Jacksonville coastline and is home to a diverse demographic, from young couples and families to retirees. Within Nocatee, there are several neighbourhoods, each of which has its own feel and style. From luxury condos to humble abodes for first-time buyers, there are accommodation options galore in Nocatee, and the development is continually expanding.
If one's main motivation for moving to Florida is to indulge in beach life, the oceanfront suburbs of Jacksonville are an ideal spot to settle in. An array of properties can be found here, from beachside cottages to modern townhouses and luxury condos.
Whichever option a prospective resident has in mind, one thing's for sure: they can expect to pay top dollar for the privilege of an ocean view. Beachfront property is highly desirable and prices are among the highest in Jacksonville. Beyond the beaches themselves, residents will have plenty of amenities close by, from restaurants and bars to parks and community events. The demographic make-up of these areas is fairly mixed, from young professionals to retirees.
►For more insights on the process of renting a home here, read the Accommodation in Jacksonville page
Photo credits: Downtown Jacksonville by Wade Austin Ellis (Unsplash); Jacksonville Beach by Lance Asper (Unsplash).
Are you an expat living in Jacksonville?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Jacksonville. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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